The New England Free Jacks Tadhg Leader returns to the team for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 28-year-old flyhalf (29 in March) is 6’3″ and 205 lbs.
Tadhg’s leadership helped the Free Jacks gain their first MLR victory against Rugby United New York and it was also evident in the Cara Cup exhibition season. He is the Free Jacks top points scorer with 62 points recorded to date. During the 60th minute of the opening MLR game, this season an injury sidelined him for the 3 successive matches, before returning for the season finale match against New Orleans Gold.
Tadhg played in the Free Jacks 2018-19 exhibition, including the beginning of the Cara Cup. He was then loaned to NOLA Gold Rugby Club and played one match of 2019 Major League Rugby season. He returned to the Free jacks to face Lansdowne FC in the final match of the season. During 2018 Leader played flyhalf and inside center and was the captain of the San Diego Legion.
Tadhg has two caps for the Eagles (Eagle #532), debuting against Chile on February 2, 2019, at Maipu and scoring a try and a conversion. His other Americas Rugby Championship match was against Canada on March 8, where he added two conversions in the win.
Tadhg is from Castlegar in Galway, Ireland, and attended Cistercian College Roscrea, a boarding school in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, from 2008-2010. According to Murray Kinsella, he was the oldest brother of three, with his brother Darragh, a wing for Connacht and his youngest brother Greg having played age-grade rugby for the Province.
From 2012 to 2014 played for both the Connacht Academy, as well as for the Senior side, however, injuries curtailed his playing time. He represented Ireland at the U19 and U20 levels before making multiple appearances for Connacht A in the British and Irish Cup.
In 2015 he was offered a scholarship at Lindenwood University, but after two matches, he was declared ineligible. Lindenwood honored his scholarship and he graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Business, while being on the Dean’s List (3.5 GPA or higher) throughout his time there.
While at Lindenwood, he turned his attention to coaching and considered various playing options. While there, he represented the United States at the Red Bull World Uni Sevens in 2016 in Bath, England. During the Spring 2016 season, he coached and played for the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. He then played professionally in Italy for Badia in the Rovigo region. In 2017 he led the St. Louis Royals to the USA Rugby DIII National Championship as a player and coach.
The 2017 year was a busy year for him, as he founded Rugby Consulting USA, which provides coaching to players at all levels. This has taken him throughout the United States, including Alaska. He also became the Chief Operations Officer of Digidust Sport, which provides professional playing opportunities for U.S. players in Europe.
Tadhg has also been a rugby coach with Boston Irish Wolfhounds, the St. Louis Royals, and is the current Head Coach of Beantown RFC in the Women’s Premiership League (WPL). He also just became the Head Coach of the South Shore Anchors, a Division II New England Club.
While Tadhg leads the Free Jacks Academy and continues as a player and a coach, he has enrolled in a Master’s of Business Administration Degree Progam at Lavelle University in 2020 and hopes to complete this degree in 2021.
New England Free Jacks Comments
Leader has been instrumental in helping develop the burgeoning Free Jacks Academy and Junior Jacks programs and has coached over 2,500 of the next generation of New England rugby players to date.
“I’m thrilled to be back with the Free Jacks for next season to build on the momentum we’ve generated these past two years” commented Leader. “It’s been an amazing journey since moving to the US five years ago, from being a part of the inception of the Free Jacks, helping to launch the Junior Jacks Academy, and earning the honor of representing the United States as an Eagle. I’m excited to have this opportunity to continue driving the Free Jacks forward on and off the field in the year ahead.”
“Tadhg has been an integral part of the Free Jacks community since our first-ever match against Ontario in October of 2018,” commented Tom Kindley, Free Jacks Performance Manager. “A Connacht product, Tadhg is equipped with a diverse skill set, including a trademark right boot, which sees him well suited for the pivotal 10 jersey. Tadhg has also been instrumental in driving our community and academy initiatives across New England. We look forward to seeing our fondly referred to Glaswegian Ginger continue to develop on the field, push for more consistent selection at the International level for the USA, and build on the tremendous grassroots and development programs established in the region.”
As a community development coach, Tadhg will continue leading the Free Jacks grassroots and Junior Jacks academy programs. A role model and outstanding coach, Leader will share his passion for the game with the next generation of New England players and connect with youth, high school, collegiate, and club players and coaches to grow the game at every level. In addition to his work within the Free Jacks initiatives, Leader returns to New England as Head Coach of the South Shore Anchors and Beantown RFC.
“Off the field, I’ve developed a true passion for coaching and I’m looking forward to continuing my work with the Free Jacks Academy alongside coaching the South Shore Anchors and Beantown RFC, two outstanding organizations,” added Leader.
Join Tadgh and the Free Jacks for a virtual meet and greet, “News and Brews” on Thursday, August 13th. Grab a Free Jacks IPA and join the virtual gathering and get to know the newest Free Jacks and the returning players. RSVP using the link here: https://www.freejacks.com/news-and-brews/.